Monday, January 28, 2008

'Undocumented people'

This is the kind of PC nonsense that drives me nuts:
"Barack Obama has not backed down" on driver's licenses for undocumented people, said Federico Peña, a former Clinton administration Cabinet member and Denver mayor now supporting Obama. "I think when the Latino community hears Barack's position on such an important and controversial issue, they'll understand that his heart and his intellect is with [the] Latino community."
(Emphasis added.)
(Hat-tip: Memeorandum.) Let us disassemble the aforesaid nonsense:
  • The phrase "undocumented" is a dishonest attempt to assert that the distinguishing trait of these people is their lack of documents, as if they'd simply misplaced their paperwork, or failed to fill out some goverment appplication. In fact, they are lawbreakers whose very presence in this country constitutes a federal crime.
  • Note the automatic (and false) conflation of "undocumented people" with the "Latino community." The Obama spokesman would have you believe that all "undocumented people" are Latino and vice versa, so that any criticism of policies that encourage illegal immigration is de facto hostility to Latinos, rather than a legitimate policy disagreement.
  • There is no such thing as the "Latino community." Ask a Mexican his opinion of Guatemalans, or ask a Guatemalan his opinion of Argentines. My pastor is a native of El Salvador, my daughter's boyfriend was born in Argentina, I count many people of Cuban and Puerto Rican ancestry among friends, and I think it fair to say that these proud American immigrants (and their children) are profoundly indignant when they are indiscrimately lumped into the "Latino community."
  • The reference to how this policy position reflects Obama's "heart and his intellect" is exactly the kind of pandering that disgusts me about post-Clintonian politics. It's "The Vision of the Anointed" writ large. Public policy ceases to be about policy, instead becoming an expression of enlightened moral sentiment: I care, therefore I am.
There is no limit to the asininity that can be justified by that kind of irrational gush. And this particular policy stance by Obama is utterly asinine. It's like supporting the legalization of methamphetamine in order to demonstrate one's sympathy for the "meth-head community."

(For the record, I am not -- repeat, not -- asserting that Latinos are analogous to meth-heads. It's just that I'm suffering an awful head cold today, and medical relief was delayed due to the restrictions on cold medication caused by the meth epidemic. That is a good example of how tolerance of lawbreaking tends to create problems for the law-abiding, just as the illegal alien influx has cast a undeserved shadow of suspicion on legal immigrants, Latino and otherwise.)

Despite the PC language, the San Francisco Chronicle points out the likely impact of Obama's endorsement of licenses for illegals:
It's a huge issue for Latinos, who want them. It's also a huge issue for the general electorate, which most vehemently does not. Obama's stand could come back to haunt him not only in a general election, but with other voters in California, where driver's licenses for illegal immigrants helped undo former Gov. Gray Davis.
Driving "is a privilege, not a right," to quote that notorious hatemonger, Sen. Christopher Dodd. Even if you don't favor mass desportation of illegal aliens (like Dora The Explorer), it makes no sense to grant them licenses.

To start with the most basic question, how are they going to drive, if they can't even read the signs? Having spent 10 years in DC, I can tell you that most drivers on the Beltway -- native or immigrant -- can't seem to grasp the meaning of simple words like "merge" and "yield." What will happen, then, if licenses are granted to illegals, many of whom are illiterate even in their own native languages?
Before Bob Jansen can teach English to the adult immigrants in his lowest-level class, he has to show about a quarter of them how to hold a pencil.
Adult education teachers like Jansen are finding themselves starting from scratch as uneducated immigrants and refugees from conflict regions of Africa and rural areas of Mexico and Central America flock to the United States.
An estimated 400,000 legal and 350,000 illegal immigrants are unable to read or write even in their native language, according to a July 2007 report from the Migration Policy Institute, an independent Washington think tank.
Also from MPI, here's a report on the impact of "limited English proficiency" students on U.S. schools.

The point is not to derogate immigrants, but to demonstrate that public policy has public consequences, and that our unlimited sympathy for, inter alia, Sudanese refugees can never justify an unlimited commitment of taxpayer resources -- which are, after all, finite.

To pander on the campaign trail, by suggesting that one's support for an unwise policy is a measure of one's moral virtue, is the abnegation of sound statesmanship. It would be a sad irony if this foolish stance cost Obama the Democratic nomination, and delivered it instead to Hillary Clinton, arguably the most inept panderer in American political history:

UPDATE: While I was composing this post, Michelle Malkin weighed in, with this hilarious video of the Chappaquiddick Swim Champ:

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